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Reshaping of ODI Rankings

At the last ICC ODI Rankings Annual update on May 1, 2017, ICC ODI World was dominated by the usual names. South Africa occupied the top spot with 123 points, followed by Australia with 118 points, then India at 117 and New Zealand at 115. England ranked 5th with 109 points, Sri Lanka 6th with 93, Bangladesh 7th with 91 and Pakistan at 8th with 88 points constituted the list of top 8 ODI sides in the world.

At exactly the halfway point in ICC ODI Rankings Season 2017-18, it is probably the right time to have a look at how different International Teams have performed since then. During exactly six months of this season, the ICC ODI Universe has received a vibrant shake up. To ascertain the impact of performances of last six months on overall ICC ODI Rankings, let’s have a supposed scenario.

Let’s assume that no more ODI Cricket will be played between now and till the next ICC Annual Update on May 1, 2018. What will be ICC ODI Rankings after that update? If this assumption is applied, England - leapfrogging from the 5th spot - would emerge as the new number 1 team in ICC ODI Rankings with 124 points while Pakistan, who were struggling, just a couple of months ago, even for the direct qualification for 2019 ICC World Cup, would jump to number 4 ranking in ICC ODI Ranking.

Australia would drop to number 5 and Sri Lanka, who were at number 6 with 93 points, would slip to number 8, only 0.6 points ahead of West Indies who will remain at number 9. This is how much the results of last six months have remained unconventional and against the trends.
This is how the ICC ODI Rankings would look under the assumption:

All this shift and reshaping in ICC ODI Rankings is based on unusually good by some teams and, equally, unusually bad performances by some teams. If the rating points earned by different teams only in this period are considered, here’s the summary of their performances:

England and Pakistan have been exceptional during this period. Pakistan have lost only 1 out of their 10 ODIs which was against India, their first game in Champions Trophy. England have played 14 ODIs in this period and lost only 2, 1 against Pakistan during Champions Trophy and 1 against South Africa just before the tournament. India has been a bit patchy. Out of 23 ODIs India played in this period (the most by any team), they lost 5, 1 each against Bangladesh and Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, and then 1 each in their ODI series with the West Indies (away), Australia (home) and New Zealand (home).

Zimbabwe also seems to be on the improvement path. Other than Pakistan, England, India and South Africa, Zimbabwe is the only team that has managed to win more matches than they have lost during this period. They played 7 and won 4. Out of 5 games against Sri Lanka, they won 3 times.
The biggest disappointment of the season has been Australia who have won only 1 out of their 8 matches during this season. In effect, they have earned only 84 rating points this season which is pretty unusual for an Australian side. West Indies has maintained itself, albeit on their disappointing standard.

But it has been Sri Lanka whose performance have gone from even worse to painful. During this season, Sri Lanka has played 18 ODIs and have lost 15 of them. Their only win against a team other than the lower ranked Zimbabwe was against India during the Champions Trophy. Other than that, they have mostly remained listless in ODI series against India and Pakistan.

Whatever the results be in the next six months and whatever the ICC ODI Rankings be after the next ICC Annual Update, one thing is pretty clear from the results of the first half of this season. That is, the trends are changing, the ICC ODI Universe is reshaping, and some old mates have returned to the party to challenge the boys at the top. It’s a refreshing shift in ODI Cricket that must go on, at least for a while, for its own benefit.

Career Best ICC ODI Rankings for Pakistan Bowlers


From MisYou to AzAs

If Pakistan’s last Test in Roseau, Dominica marked the end of MisYou era, the Abu Dhabi Test is going to annotate the dawn of AzAs age. It will be the first time Azhar Ali will take the field not as the most experienced batsman in the side but also the most experienced player overall with 60 Test caps next to his name. Asad Shafiq will be the next most experienced player with 56 Tests to his name.

  • No player with 60+ Tests, for the first time since 2011 vs West Indies
  • Pakistan squad slips from 16th to 287th most experienced side ever
  • The most inexperienced eleven since 2011, vs Sri Lanka at Dubai
  • Pakistan’s batting lineup slips from most experienced ever to 255th
  • First-ever Test without Misbah and Younis in 7 years, after 58 Tests
  • Only Azhar, Amir, Sarfaraz played a Test without Misbah and Younis
  • Azhar to appear as Senior Most Player for the first time ever
  • The expected top-7 batting order to go in with 181 Tests in Total
  • 83% - 151 out of those 181 Tests played by Azhar, Asad and Sarfaraz
  • 3 others will go in with 30 Tests in between them
  • 1 guaranteed debutant in top 7

Fawad Alam - Pakistan Cricket's Enigma

The following piece was first posted on May 26, 2016 on Scoreline Portal. 16 months on,the situation is still the same.


Brief Mention in Indian Express

A brief mention in "The Indian Express" today. Glad they picked the pertinent part of the show on PTV Sports and referred to it in the right spirit.

Click here to read full article on The Indian Express website

Game On Hai - 30 August 2017

A discussion with former Pakistan Cricket Captain, Rashid Latif and Dr Nauman Niaz, the renowned Cricket historian and anchor in the flagship sports show "Game On Hai" of PTV Sports. "Game On Hai" is the most watched Sports show in Pakistan with highest TRP in Sports category. PTV Sports is the Sports channel of Pakistan's National Broadcaster, PTV.


Game On Hai - 29 August 2017

A discussion with former Pakistan Cricket Captain, Rashid Latif and Dr Nauman Niaz, the renowned Cricket historian and anchor in the flagship sports show "Game On Hai" of PTV Sports. "Game On Hai" is the most watched Sports show in Pakistan with highest TRP in Sports category. PTV Sports is the Sports channel of Pakistan's National Broadcaster, PTV. 

Pakistan Cricket, PSL and Najam Sethi

August 17, 2017 
While we remain aware of the empty half of the glass, the filled half of the glass can not be left unappreciated. At the same time, the efforts of those who had put all they had on stake to fill whatever there is in the glass, can not be ignored either.


Younis Khan - Sweeping Away The Norms

From the August Edition of SCORELINE Magazine


Zimbabwe Keeps West Indies Dream Alive

July 10, 2017: The shock defeat of Sri Lanka at the hands of Zimbabwe, their first away series win since 2009, keeps the final direct qualification slot for ICC World Cup 2019 open. Sri Lanka went into this five match home series ranked 8th with the rating of 93 in ICC ODI Rankings and ended up with the rating of 88 after the five matches against the team currently ranked 11th in the world..... continue reading


Game On Hai - 17 June 2017

Complete Show

June 17, 2017


Game On Hai - 17 June 2017

June 17, 2017


India vs Pakistan Cricket – Contest beyond just Cricket

This article was first published on February 28, 2016, after Pakistan’s loss to India in Asia Cup. It remains current and accurate, still, after latest clash between the two sides ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at Birmingham.

Growing up watching Miandad and Imran stepping into the peak of their careers and transforming Pakistan team from a 'good-contest' to a fierce competitor, I always considered myself lucky to have witnessed that transformation. Along the way, also came that fascinating period of total dominance of Pakistan over the arch rivals, India.

Published by Scoreline on April 19, 2017. Click here to continue reading on Scoreline Portal


Qualification Quest - WC 2019 and ICC ODI Rankings

In 11 editions of ICC Cricket World Cup, only 5 teams have managed to win that prestigious ICC event. World Cup 2019 will be the first time in the history where two full members of ICC will be forced to take part in a qualifying tournament. The possibility of one of the 5 former Champions ending up being one of those two full members has added a never-before thrill and curiosity in the Cricket world.

Published by Scoreline on April 19, 2017. Click here to continue reading on Scoreline Portal


How ICC Rankings Annual Update Works

ICC operates a ranking system to rank men’s teams playing across Test, One-Day International and Twenty20 International formats and women’s teams playing One-Day International and Twenty20 International cricket.

ICC publishes up to date current ranking of teams according to that system on its official portal - ICC Team Rankings

ICC Rankings changes overnight once every year when ICC updates Ranking Points of each team to keep the Rankings current and accurate. The update takes place on 1st May every year when the ICC ODI Rankings are adjusted according to these predefined rules:

  • Any points earned earlier than the last 36 months (since 1 May of 3 years ago) are discarded
  • Weightage of all points earned between the last 13 to 36 months (between the May of 3 years ago to April of previous year) is set to 50%
  • All points earned during the last 12 months (from May of previous year to April of current year) continue to carry the weightage of 100%

Till 30 April of the next year, the above rules remain in effect. Till the next annual update, points earned by matches played during this period are simply added into the annually updated rankings as on 1st May to give the current ICC Rankings. That means, on every 30 April of a year:
  • Points earned during the previous 24 months (since the May of two years ago) are counted with 100% weightage.
  • Points earned in between the previous 25th and 48th months (since the April of 2 years ago to May of 4 years ago) are counted with 50% weightage.
The idea of ICC ODI Rankings was to build a mechanism to quantify the success of different teams, benchmark their performance and identify the top, the average and the below par teams at certain point in time. The mechanism works on a combination of performance in a match and the current form of the competing teams.

The official ICC website describes the Rankings in these words: 

A team that, over the period being rated, wins as often as it loses while playing an average mix of strong and weak opponents will have a rating of close to 100. A rating of 100 could also correspond to a side that wins more often than it loses but who has generally played more matches against weak teams. Similarly, if the majority of its matches are against strong teams, then a rating of 100 could be achieved despite having more defeats than victories.

It is quite often the case that there are a number of teams in the 90-110 range. These teams are of broadly similar standard. A rating above 120 suggests consistently strong performances. Above 130 is rarely achieved and suggests a high degree of dominance over all other teams.
For the purposes of quick referencing, ranking of 100 can be considered as par, 120 as excellent and 130 above as exceptional. This piece of information helps a lot in seeing a team’s ranking in the context of its own ranking points instead of judging its performance only on the basis of where it stands in the list of twelve ODI Ranked teams at any point.

Theoretically, a team can come out as the number one ranked team in the world with 110 ranking points as well but in the context of strength of performance, that number one ranked team may fall way behind a number one ranked team with 130 ranking points or even a number two or number three team with 120 points.

The other aspect of ICC ODI Rankings is the recent form of the teams. The idea there is to gage the consistency in performance of a team over a period of time and reduce the impact of occasional spike in the performance of any team. The rankings are designed to judge the teams during a reasonable period rather than on the basis of few good or bad series or matches. For that reason, ICC ODI Rankings includes the performances of last 3 to 4 years as detailed earlier.

On that note, it is also worth having a look at how different teams have performed during recent ICC ODI seasons as it also gives a fair idea of why and how some teams will benefit from the annual update and some teams will lose some points (and ranking position). Having a look at the points earned during specific seasons also indicates the trend of improvement or decline in the recent performance of teams. It clearly answers why certain teams enjoy a high ranking position even after performing badly in recent times whereas some teams are struggling in the lower half of the table even after performing better. 


Captain Azhar - The latest tale of (mis)management

Finally, the curtain has fallen on Captain Azhar and not only him but along with him, 'batsman Azhar' has also vanished from Pakistan's One Day International scene. Just about a month ago, he was seen on the global stage as the captain commanding his troops in a foreign territory and within no time, he has been ostracized completely from the limited overs affairs of Pakistan Cricket. First, being denied a single match in the PSL where he was a regular feature of the side in the last year's edition and then, being omitted from Pakistan ODI side that he proudly led for almost two years.

Published in SCORELINE on March 18, 2017. Click here to read the article on Scoreline Portal.


Cricket and Technology

March 9, 2017: DRS, no DRS. Hawk Eye, no Hawk Eye, Snicko, no Snicko. Heat map, no Heat map. Review, not to Review.In recent times, all these questions have made cricket, the sports already perceived too complex to understand, even more confusing and complicated for not only super loyal fans but players as well. Now, as soon as a decision making event happens in Cricket, the first question that comes to mind is not of out or not out but which of the technology tools are available.... continue reading


PSL Final in Lahore - An Emotional Blunder

Published in ScoreLine on February 27, 2017

The objective was to bring back International Cricket not the PSL (without International Players). PSL without its foreign players on the roster is as good as a domestic tournament that can neither have nor it has any influence of bringing International Cricket back to Pakistan.


Players Performance Benchmark View - Pakistan vs Australia ODI Series 2017

Here is a quick summary view of how players from both teams performed, during recently concluded Pakistan vs Australia ODI Series, with respect to common performance benchmark of an ideal performance.

The calculation is pretty simple. For all Batting Performances, the Series Batting Average of each batsman was divided by 40, the generally accepted benchmark batting average in ODIs. Similarly, Strike Rate of 100 was taken as a benchmark and each Batting Strike Rate was divided by 100. Then both of these factors to give a Quality Factor. To map quality with length of performance(s), this quality factor was then multiplied by the total runs scored by each batsman during the series.

Unlike bowling where each bowler is restricted to a maximum quota of balls he could bowl in a match regardless of how good he bowls in that particular match, a batsmen gets the chance to play out even all of 50 overs. This at times, means the batsmen coming later in the order rarely gets a chance to play as many overs as a top order batsman can. For this purpose, the product of quality factor and total number of runs was further divided by number of innings batted by that batsman to give the benchmark rating. To make it easier to relate and assess, these ratings were further scaled to a scale of 100 where rating of 100 means an ideal performance of 40 runs at a Strike Rate of 100. Anything above is considered an above par rating and anything below as below par rating.

Applying this method gives the following view of the series:

Similarly, for bowling performances, Bowling Average of 25, Economy of 6 Runs Per Over and Bowling Strike Rate of 30 balls per wicket (2 wickets in 10 overs) was used as a benchmark performance. The total quality points were then scaled to a scale of 100 to provide the performance rating where a rating of 100 means a par performance.

Since bowling performances in an ODI are already limited to a maximum quota, as explained earlier, no further calculations were done in that regard. Similarly, unlike batting where there is no maximum limit of runs to be scored or conceded by a batting or bowling team, the bowling performances of a bowling unit are already confined to maximizing of 10 wickets by the bowling team which means that in case of a good or exceptional performance by a bowling team, not all bowlers gets a chance to bowl their whole quota even when they would like to, so the factor of number of balls bowled by a bowler has been ignored.

Applying this method on bowling performances, gives the following view:


Consolidated Rankings

as of January 24th


Team 99 vs Team 2016 - A Statistical View

Published in ScoreLine on January 11, 2017

Pakistan’s team of 2016 did not lack experience overall. In fact, the weight of experience was tilted, ideally, towards the batting side that is generally considered the tougher trait for visiting Asian sides. In terms of experience, the batting side of 2016 was more superior to Australians than as much the Australians were in 1999.
Continue Reading:


Misbah doing a Misbah

The role of Misbah in stabilizing the rocking boat of Pakistan Cricket needs neither an introduction nor any debate. The way he gradually steered the boat out of the troubled waters is an example for captains to follow in the future. 

But as they say, you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain, probably, the same is happening with Misbah as well. His reluctance to embrace the inevitable is making him damage himself whatever respect and persona he had earned for himself.

He is proving once again that he is not a good finisher. Like his batting, he can build the innings but lacks the ability to finish at the right time and in the right manner. From 2007 T20 WC to Mohali Semi Final, he had his chances to become a great batsman, even greater than Miandad but he failed to finish like him. 

Same happened with his captaincy stints in T20 and ODI formats and now his Test captaincy is heading in the same direction as well. It looks like, he will 'get out', eventually, but at a point where he will be remembered more for his failure at the end of the 'innings', rather than for all his dedicated hard work to set up the game. Seems like Misbah's final act on the stage will be nothing but Misbah doing a Misbah.

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Discussion about ICC Rankings Update